Explaining Southern California's economy

E3 in LA: In the game industry's California backyard, the big star is French

E3 Expo

Roberto (Bear) Guerra/KPCC

Gamers take in the sights at the E3 Expo. At this big event for Los Angeles and Southern California, the big star is Ubisoft, a French company.

E3 Expo

Roberto (Bear) Guerra/KPCC

Michael Chan, of Hong Kong, plays new Sony PlayStation game at the 2012 E3 Expo.

E3 Expo

Roberto (Bear) Guerra/KPCC

The Annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, started in 1995 in Los Angeles. The popular conference saw almost 47,000 attendees in 2011.

E3 Expo

Roberto (Bear) Guerra/KPCC

E3 Expo attendees take a picture in front of an advertisement for the popular video game, Halo.


All the biggest names in gaming have pulled into Los Angeles this week for E3. Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, and Activision are just a few of the companies that call Southern California home. All these companies have had hits and made millions. Some have created veritable pop-culture phenomena with games like "Medal of Honor" and "Call of Duty."

But at E3, the company that getting all the buzz is...French!

(OK, Activision is owned in part by Vivendi, a French company, but it's still based in L.A.)

It's Ubisoft, and its new game, "Watch Dogs," is the talk of E3. The actual game itself is cryptic ‚ but that's the point. It's based on concepts such as surveillance, hacking, and security. You can check out a sample here.

It rather notably isn't a sequel to a previous game. The business model of the gaming business has become highly reliant of offering new iterations of essentially the same thing. Ubisoft is somewhat guilty of this itself, with its "Assassin's Creed" series. 

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Welcome to Silicon Bayou: Louisiana is coming after California's gamers

Silicon Bayou-Foodtruck-MDB

Matthew DeBord/KPCC

The good people of Louisiana want to steal our gamers! They've sent a food truck to E3 to entice Californians to cone to "Silicon Bayou."

You never know what you're going to find when you stagger out into the sunlight after watching a preview of the latest zombie-apocalypse videogame. But that's exactly what happened to me at Day 1 of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, the big computer and video-game trade show that's taken over the Los Angeles Convention Center.

"ZombiU," the new game from Ubisoft, does looks pretty darn scary. It also seems to be set in London, which somehow makes it even scarier — you can watch the trailer here, be warned, it isn't for younger viewers! I'm not even sure it was for me, so I made a dash for sunlight and ran right into...a food truck from Louisiana! Giving away alligator (sausage) and fried shrimp po'boys! And root beer! And two kinds of chips! 

But also providing helpful information on why, if you're involved in the gaming industry, you might want to come to work or set up shop in the Pelican State. I spoke with Heath Williams, the Director of Digital Interactive Media from Louisiana Entertainment and Louisiana Economic Development, who was completely unapologetic about bringing his state's fine cuisine right to the very heart of the California gaming industry, a roughly $2.6-billion-per-year business (and about $5 billion nationally).

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